Young children don’t hear the sounds within words. Thus, they hear “dog,” but not the “duh”-“aw”- “guh.” To become readers, they have to learn to hear these sounds (or phonemes). Play language games with your child. For instance, say a word, perhaps her name, and then change it by one phoneme: Jen-Pen, Jen-Hen, Jen-Men. Or, just break a word apart: chair… ch-ch-ch-air. Follow this link to learn more about language development milestones in children.
My son who is around 2 and half years old now has started writing. He can write all the alphabets and words he remembers (he knows spelling of around 60 words). He just has trouble writing N, M and S. Please tell me what is the average age by which kids start writing. Has my son picked up the skill little earlier? How can I further enhance his skill?
@B. Leekley, thank you for your very insightful comment. I must say that did not intend to imply that once a child knows how to read there will be no more work to be done, what I simply meant in my article is that once a child knows HOW to read then he or she will have the most basic tool for learning. Thank you for your recommendation as well, I downloaded a pdf copy this weekend and am looking forward to reading it and implementing it into my son’s schooling. I really enjoyed your comments and am very grateful for your support.
As children decode words with more frequency, they will become more proficient at automatically identifying that word.  Sometimes this task is tedious, though, so it’s important to find creative ways to make it fun.  When I taught first grade, I used to buy little finger puppets that my students could use to point to the letters as they were decoding.  This was a huge hit and made this process so much fun!
Something I had thought about is addressed in the book as well. Some words are always said differently than how we sound them out. Words such as 'SAID' 'TO' 'OF'. The book teaches the child to sound it out first (as they always should)...but to then explain that it's a funny word that is spoken differently. There's honestly no other way to teach this to a child other than some words in the English language are just weird, lol!
This is an absolutely wonderful book! We are a homeschool family. My wife handles most of the lessons, but I teach each child to read when they show interest around 4 or 5 years old. My oldest daughter is 18. She is an avid reader. I started her off on this book when she was five years old. So far I have taught six of my children how to read using this book. I'm about to start on number seven. My youngest son is four years old and has started to show interest. (In case you are wondering, there a ...more
Develop phonemic awareness. One of the most important steps in teaching reading is associating a spoken sound with a letter or letter-pair. This process is known as phonemic awareness. There are 44 speech sounds created by the 26 letters in our alphabet, and each sound must be taught paired with its letter(s) counterpart. This includes the long and short sound produced by each individual letter, as well as the specialized sounds some combined letters make (like ‘ch’ and ‘sh’).
Thanks so much for posting this! Our son just turned 2 and LOVES reading books. He would have us read to him for hours…in fact when his grandma comes over I think she really does read to him for multiple hours through the day. We read board books about trucks and tractors and animals and also read a lot of Dr. Seuss and Bible stories and Curious George. For many months now I have set aside time for him to color with crayons and I would write down the alphabet or short words and go over the letters. We sing the ABC’s a lot and have worked on his saying vowels. He began to recognize the letter “A” in many places at the beginning of the year. Last week we were at the doctors office and there was an alphabet rug and he began naming them through “F”. And he just got an etch a sketch for his birthday, so as I wrote down the first few letters of the alphabet or wrote down his name he began naming them! I was amazed! Not that he does it perfectly but I really didn’t know the capabilities of a 2 year old. I’m really wanting to find more fun ways to encourage him but not push him too hard in it. I look forward to putting your suggestions into practice as he continues to learn!
Vincent Lopez, a staff member at the Diablo Valley School, a Sudbury model school, sent me this sweet example of age-mixed learning: "In the art room they are making signs to imitate a TV show that had just started. It is in my opinion, a dumb, low-ethics, media-driven, free for all dating show; I've let this be known before. In their own way they are processing the future to come. ... but I digress. The jewel of this snippet is that the 5-year-old is attempting to read the sign with the help of his multi-aged peers. ...Students learn because they want to get the jokes, be more advanced like the peers around them."
I recently read an article by two cognitive scientists claiming that the next development in reading instruction is going to be individualized instruction.[1] According to the authors, modern brain imaging methods will be used to figure out the unique learning style of each child, and digital text-delivery programs will be used to teach reading to each child according to his or her unique needs and way of learning. The authors and their colleagues are, indeed, working on developing such systems. To me, this seems silly. The unique needs of each child, as they affect learning to read, are not just functions of differences in brain hardware, but vary from day to day and moment to moment based on the child's specific experiences, wishes, and whims, which the child himself or herself controls. I'll begin to believe these researchers' claims when I see evidence that brain imaging can be used to predict, in advance, the contents of daydreams.

Help us help you. We want this to be a resource that is constantly improving. So please provide us with your feedback, both the good and the bad. We want to know which lessons worked for your child, and which fell short. We encourage you to contribute your own ideas that have worked well in the home or classroom. You can communicate with us through email or simply post a response in the comments section of the relevant page.

I know I am responding to an older post; however, I will go ahead since it may benefit someone else. Since it is now spring, take your little ones outside and practice colors, shapes, numbers, letters, writing, etc. using sidewalk chalk. It never fails to entertain and teach at the same time. Sounds like you’re doing a great job with your (now) 5 year old, just don’t be sucked in to pressuring her to handle more than she is ready to handle.


LANGUAGE! is for struggling learners in grades 3–12 who score below the 40th percentile on standardized tests. It is most often used by special education teachers. The curriculum uses a six-step format for each lesson. The first step is word-sound awareness. The second step is word recognition and spelling. Then comes vocabulary and then grammar. Listening and reading comprehension come next. Writing is the last step. There is also a version of this program that is specifically designed for English language learners.
Hi, thank you very much! Reading your posts really enlightened me. You have advises that change my view on how to teach my son. Most of the times spent teaching my son reading made me impatient, my son saw me very frustrated which I felt he became frustrated as well. And I felt so sorry every after sessions we had. I was the one so pressured. Thank you for these words “concentrate on making reading fun and enjoyable for both of you” It really tells me that I am the one who lost strategies. Please pray for me as well… Thank you.

If your child's still keen for more (and, again, there's no rush), you could have a go at helping them blend letter sounds together to make a simple vowel-consonant word: so, “a” and “t” makes “at” or “o” and “n” makes “on”. “Say 'a' and 't', then say it again, faster and faster, until the sounds run together and the penny, in theory, drops.” You could also find some simple letter-sound activity sheets from websites like Twinkl or try phonics apps like Jolly Phonics and Reading Eggs to reinforce this idea.
My own children also learned to read by osmosis. When you are surrounded by books and parents who always have a book open, I think it is hard NOT to learn to read. By 4yrs, my eldest was reading the New York Times. He started as a toddler, looking for the "Hess" gas signs on the highway. #2 was a bit older, around 7 yrs old, when she decided to learn, but the most interesting was my youngest, who refused to pick up a story book at all and only wanted to do math problems. At 4 yrs of age she was very shy and clingy, so came with me when I taught at religious school. My teenaged students wanted to know why I "made" her sit and do math, and found it hard to believe that she actually LOVED it. I think it was the math book that taught her to read - she had to learn in order to do the "word problems."
Set small goals. This is the one time you shouldn’t focus so much on the bigger picture. It can be daunting and discouraging. It also might encourage you to breeze past foundational principles and push them past reasonable expectations. So, forget the “bigger picture” and focus on small victories instead. Remember we should be more concerned with improvement than achievement.
When I was teaching my kids to read, I tried to find books with only short words, thinking that they would make it easier to learn reading. But I couldn’t find any such books. Could I write one? What about using words only 3-letters long? Yes. Then what about 2-letter words? That would be a challenge, but I listed the 2-letter words and made a story. I published it as a free ebook so that anyone may access it. I hope this book, along with material on this websites and from other sources, may help your child or student learn to read. Here it is: http://www.wegotobo.com
We're homeschoolers who do not unschool, but I waited until my son asked to learn to read before sitting down with him and introducing phonics (he was 5 1/2). He learned very quickly and progressed easily with the easy readers, but then an interesting thing happened- he no longer wanted to read to me. He complained about having to it and I noticed he wasn't trying to sound out words he saw on signs or menus for fun anymore.

My oldest son taught himself to read as well. He was just shy of three and a half when he started reading traffic signs to me. I got him some of the Bob books, which he looked through and became bored with quickly. I was always trying to sneak in a test or two as well, asking him to read out loud to me. When he was almost four I was having some anxiety that maybe he wasn't getting a thorough enough grounding in phonics and whatever. Serendipitously, a friend of ours gave us the "Hooked on Phonics" set and I thought that I would use it. Because I didn't know how well he could read, I wasn't sure where to start. We sat down with the books, and he began reading them to me. Within two hours, he'd read every book in the box set, levels 1 through 5. I decided that I would leave well enough alone, and I put away the cards, cds, boxes, etc. and just put the books on his bookshelf. Since that day I've backed off completely and left him alone. His baby brother is two, and I'll often find them curled up together reading to each other. The oldest will read a story out loud, and the youngest will make up a story by pointing to pictures in another book and telling his brother what he things is happening. We're having good luck with basic math skills just by using Legos and Hot Wheels cars. Sneaky Mommy will send the oldest in to get "Two cars for everybody". When he comes back, I'll ask how many he brought. With the youngest, I'll ask him to go get a set number of cars. It's effortless and they seem to be having fun.
I really take a huge advantage of it, while I can. thanks guys, I really love to teach, well I’m not a former at all, but in my native language (Spanish) I do it. I encourage my little child to learn things about life, she is 2 years old, and she knows almost how to speak Spanish very well, I play the piano for her, I read books about kids stuff to her, and so she will become a lover of knowledge just as her father does.
Do not worry about grammar.. Preschoolers, kindergartners, and first graders are very concrete in the way they think and cannot handle complicated concepts. By age four, most English speaking children already have an excellent grasp of grammar and in due time, they will learn all the formal grammatical rules. At this point, you need to concentrate only on the mechanical skill of reading, that is learning to decode new words and incorporating them in memory to build fluency.
Learning to read is a long process, but it doesn't have to be a difficult process. Broken down into intuitive and logical steps, a child as young as two years old can learn to read, and older children can accomplish even more. Click here to for a simple, step-by-step program that can help your child learn to read, and watch a video of a 2 year old child reading.

You, their parent, know what your child’s interests are and if you include these words into their lesson, you will soon have an enthusiastic child who will not only look forward to their reading lesson, but soon they will give you words that they want to learn to read, for example my son was crazy about dinosaurs, Winnie the Pooh and aliens. The best fun we had was making sentences using these words, one of his favourites was, “My daddy is a green dinosaur.”
"There was also a time when, as an infant, I knew no Latin; but this I acquired without any fear or tormenting, but merely by being alert to the blandishments of my nurses, the jests of those who smiled on me, and the sportiveness of those who toyed with me. I learned all this, indeed, without being urged by any pressure of punishment, for my own heart urged me to bring forth its own fashioning, which I could not do except by learning words: not from those who taught me but those who talked to me, into whose ears I could pour forth whatever I could fashion. From this it is sufficiently clear that a free curiosity is more effective in learning than a discipline based on fear."
I came across this article on Pinterest and I love it. I am a kindergarten teacher and a mother of a 2 1/2 year old. I agree so much with what you have written and love how you have compiled it! I was wondering if you would mind if my kindergarten team used what you have written in a packet for parents at kindergarten roundup (we may change parts that are specific to you…curriculum used, etc.). :)
Studies show that children with weak phonological awareness become weak readers. Parents can almost guarantee their youngsters will become proficient readers by starting early with phonological awareness. They should forget flashcards, workbooks, and pricey kits such as “Hooked on Phonics” and just keep it fun, light, and simple. Phonological awareness is about being silly with words, making it a game, and celebrating the magic of language. There's no need for parents to sit their children down and give formal lessons. Instead, parents should teach it throughout the day in a fun and organic way by remembering the mantra: When you're out and about, sound it out:
But even as our expectations continue to increase, the latest brain-development research shows that, on average, kids are simply not ready to start learning until around age 5. And those who do start sounding out words at younger ages aren't necessarily brighter, says Beverly Cox, an associate professor of literacy and language at Purdue University: "An early walker isn't destined to be a great athlete, and an early reader isn't destined to be more intelligent."

Between the ages of 2 and 3, reading becomes a crucial part of your child's healthy development. The baby is growing into a child and communicating a little more each day. He is beginning to express his personality, indicate his preferences and assert his will. In fact, during this period, your child will experience a dramatic increase in language abilities. Many children can comprehend up to 400 words by their 3rd birthday. They can also speak in simple sentences and begin using correct grammar. For this reason, children love having the same books read to them at this age. In fact they thrive on repetition, and use the experience to memorize their favourite phrases and expressions from the book. Supporting your child's expanding language skills through reading becomes even more important.
This is indeed a wonderful post! I have a 14 month old who loves his books. I will be socking this article away for frequent reference. I will note, however, I found the odd reference about how men are not prone to reading very strange indeed. Perhaps I am just unusually fortunate in this respect, but so many of the men in my life adore reading, that it struck me as quite false. I am, in fact, married to a male librarian who loves to read and is beyond thrilled that our little guy has begun grabbing books and bringing them over for him to read. But that assertion aside, an excellent article. Thank you!
He says that parents can help kids read by taking advantage of situations where reading has some utility. “In our house, for a brief period of time, my youngest just thought it was hilarious fun when we’d ask her to clean her room but would do so by writing down on a slip of paper each task. ‘Put away all your toys.’ She would read the slip of paper, then go off and do it, and then come back for another slip of paper.” (UM, brilliant.)
“Phonics” includes learning how to spell those sounds and the various rules that the English language follows.  Phonics is an important components of reading/spelling, but it should never be the main focus.  Again, we are looking to balance our literacy “program” with reading comprehension as the end result.  Learning the rules of phonics is simply a tool that helps a child learn to decode and spell.  I used the Pathways To Reading program in the classroom as my phonemic awareness and phonics program and loved it!  It made learning all of the tricky spellings so much fun, but I wouldn’t recommend it until your child is in kindergarten or first grade.
You seem very passionate about reading and I think that’s great. However, you seem very defensive about the method. Quite frankly my only goal is to help children learn to read and I have found that starting with sight reading is the easiest and best method. You, of course are entitled to your opinion as is Mrs Freeman. My son is now turning 10 and he is reading and memorizing Shakespeare (having learned to read from – YES – “call words”!). You are welcome to go to my website and see him doing it if you doubt it. And BTW, my son is 100% homeschooled and he too remains above grade level.
Hello ! I have been so interested, now that my children are adults, in the methods of teaching children to learn, while also being concerned about this. They have been so streamlined, and I have to say so limited to books and electronic teaching tools. I could not help but disagree that children should begin reading at about 6 years old. It’s a roadblock to have them wait so long. It is something that I would like to pursue and write a book about why they need not be pushed to learn how to read at a younger age. My children did learn to read at a much earlier age. One of my children, and only one of them is gifted. It had nothing to do with their skills at having so much fun from the time they started crawling with the exception that I simply made my own program for them. They, as babies. had no idea that they were learning to read. It was a game to them. Now that they are adults, they thank me for their success in life. How rewarding as a mom. I also taught them basic math when they were toddlers. All taught with tools from the outdoors. I worked, so many times it was difficult, but sooo worth the effort. I believe that the bonding time and a lot of love is what made it happen. I did read classics to them, but they were not children’s books. There is a way to raise children to love learning and the key is that they don’t even know it. Let me know if you have an interest in pursuing a conversation sometime on how I did it. My baby is now in Med School and will go on to Anesthesiology, so I feel competent to speak from experience at how she arrived, from infancy, to who she is today. Best Wishes, Karen Fega

It’s been almost a month and my 5 year old can read a decent amount of words. It is honestly a struggle though. She has a serious case of ants in the pants, so it’s extremely hard for her to pay attention. She seems to respond better if I write out the lesson in colorful markers or sometimes I write it out on the driveway in colorful chalk. Then it’s just a matter of getting her to take a few seconds here and there to look and sound out words. We are usually done within 10 min- if I can get her undivided attention. With patience, we will get through it and she will do well. Be prepared to spice it up a bit for your own though.


It can be hard for those who see their (often months older) classmates outstrip them fast – especially if there are a few who have come into school already able to read. “My son's a summer-born and was only just four when he started school. He was definitely slower than most of the others at 'getting' the whole idea of reading. I started to think he was destined to be bottom of the pile for ever. It was quite hard not to get a bit worried about it.” As a teacher, I can say neither early reading nor late reading has a bearing on the intelligence of a child.
If you have been sharing books with your child from babyhood, they will already know that the same pictures or sounds can be visited again and again within a book. They will also know that it feels good to sit in a loving embrace and to have the enjoyment doubled by sharing a book. For them, looking at books is never a chore or a forced activity. This child has a head start.
Sightwords.com is a comprehensive sequence of teaching activities, techniques, and materials for one of the building blocks of early child literacy. This collection of resources is designed to help teachers, parents, and caregivers teach a child how to read. We combine the latest literacy research with decades of teaching experience to bring you the best methods of instruction to make teaching easier, more effective, and more fun.
Hi :) First of all, that’s a bunch of useful tips you posted here Jenae! I have a lovely six-year-old daughter and I’ve been trying to start teaching her how to read for a few months now. I went through a lot of parenting forums and tried so many things, but what seems to work for her is simply playing educational games on our iPad ;) She’s got loads of them but the one she likes the most is called ‘Flincky Mouse’ and I’m even happier since we’re using Polish at home (my husband is British, but I’m from Poland) and the app comes in Polish as well. We’re also trying to read to her as much as possible and I hope she’ll appreciate it in the future! Anyway, thanks so much for the article and see you around.
×